ABOUT TOD SLAUGHTER
Initially, we should say that our seven Tod Slaughter vintage British horror films, are a total hoot. In some ways, they are riotiously funny; in others, they are really interesting examples of the beginnings of what became the modern horror movie. The dialog is generally pretty corny, as might be expected from what were essentially movies of Victorian melodrama stage plays; the special effects are charmingly basic — I particularly like watching the “body” dropped from the roof of a Paris building, bounce as it hits the ground. However, in many ways they are really interesting — there is no blood, no gore, no elaborate gushing of corn syrup “blood.” However, the B&W shadow against a tent wall of somebody hammering a spike into the ear of a sleeping person whose persona the killer wishes to steal, is in many ways more horrifying that a modern special effects color enactment might be. This page contains information about the legendary Tod Slaughter, billed as “The Horror Man of Europe” when the movies were released in the United States, information about the individual movies, video promos, and links to Amazon.com for the purchase of DVDs released on our Mr. FAT-W Video label.
A. From Wikipedia:
“Tod Slaughter (19 March 1885 – 19 February 1956) was an English actor, best known for playing over-the-top maniacs in macabre film adaptations of Victorian melodramas. Born as Norman Carter Slaughter in Newcastle, he made his way onto the stage in 1905 at West Hartlepool. In 1913, he became a lessee of the Hippodrome theatres at Richmond and Croydon. After a brief interruption to serve during the war in the Royal Flying Corps, Slaughter resumed his career and returned to the stage. After the war, he ran the Theatre Royal, Chatham before taking over the Elephant and Castle theatre in South London for a memorable few years from 1922 onwards that have since passed into British theatrical legend. Tod’s company revived Victorian “blood-and-thunder” melodramas such as Maria Marten, Sweeney Todd, Jack Shepherd and the Silver King to enthusiastic audiences – not just locals but also sophisticated theatre-goers from the West End who might have initially come for a cheap laugh but ended up enthralled by the power of the fare on offer. Tod also staged other types of production such as the annual Christmas pantomime where he would cast prominent local personalities in bit-parts for audience recognition. Despite a local protest, the Elephant and Castle theatre was closed down in 1927 and Tod’s company vacated it several months before the end. At the start of the 30’s, it is said he briefly retired from acting to become a chicken farmer but it proved a short-lived venture and he was soon back managing his company touring the provinces and outlying London theatres with a repertoire of Victorian melodramas.
“In 1934 at age 49, he debuted into motion pictures. Usually cast as a villain, his first film was Maria Martin or Murder in the Red Barn (1935) a Victorian melodrama filmed cheaply with Slaughter as the obvious bad-guy. Slaughter’s next film role was as Sweeney Todd in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1936) directed and produced by George King, whose partnership with Slaughter was continued in the subsequent shockers: The Crimes of Stephen Hawke (1936); The Ticket of Leave Man (1938); The Face at the Window (1939) and Crimes at the Dark House (1940).There were, however, some non-melodramatic roles in his career. He was a supporting player in 1937’s The Song of the Road and Darby and Joan. In 1938’s Sexton Blake and the Hooded Terror he played the head of an international gang of super-villains.
“After the war Slaughter resumed melodramatic roles and starred in The Curse of the Wraydons (1946), in which he played the legendary Victorian bogeyman Spring-Heeled Jack, and The Greed of William Hart (1948) based on the murderous career of Burke and Hare. These were produced by Ambassador films at Bushey studios who had made a healthy profit rereleasing Tod’s 30’s films during the war years. The public’s appetite for melodrama seemed to have abated somewhat by the 50’s and he went bankrupt in 1953 owing to a downturn in his touring income. His last two films were each three episodes of the television series Inspector Morley cobbled together for theatrical release. A version of “Spring-heeled Jack” starring Tod was one of the first live TV plays mounted by the BBC after the war.
“Still performing on the stage almost to the very end, Slaughter died of coronary thrombosis. After his death following a performance of Maria Marten in Derby, his work slipped almost completely into obscurity. He was survived by his actress wife Jenny Lynn.”
B. From www.britishpictures.com
“Tod Slaughter (1885 – 1956)
“British cinema has never produced anyone to match Tod Slaughter. He was the last of the great barnstormers, ceaselessly touring the provinces in hoary old melodramas. By some stroke of genius, quota-quickie producer George King realised that Slaughter appealed to precisely the audience who went to the cheaper houses, and so brought the full majesty of Mr Slaughter’s performances to the screen.
“Slaughter was born in Newcastle (as Norman Carter Slaughter) and first took to the boards in 1905. By the time war broke out he was managing his own company. After war service he resumed his career though it was many years before he finally made it into Pictures.
“He always played the villain. It was what he was good at and no one was better. His first film, Maria Marten, set the tone for his subsequent films: a no-holds barred Victorian melodrama filmed cheaply with Slaughter as the obvious bad-guy. He cackled and slimed his way through most of the classics of the melodrama genre.
“There were some non-melodramatic roles in his career. He was a supporting player in the modern day Song of the Road and Darby and Joan. In Sexton Blake and the Hooded Terror he played the head of an international gang of super-villains. His last two films were each three episodes of the television series Inspector Morley cobbled together for theatrical release. In this he played master-criminal Terence Reilley, but the series doesn’t appear to have had a UK broadcast.
“These films are just aberrations. The true Slaughter film needs a period background for that authentic theatrical experience. These films genuinely feel as though they are from another age – if the Victorians could have made feature films, they would have made these. Granted, Slaughter is more of a ham than Charles Laughton, Donald Wolfit and Marlon Brando combined; but at least he’s having fun!
“After his death in 1956 following a performance of Maria Marten (still in harness at seventy!) his work slipped into obscurity. His full-blooded theatrical style was at odds with the prevailing preference for naturalism and there wasn’t room for his films in the po-faced canon of British Classic films. Over the last ten years or so his profile has risen, largely because Channel 4 have the rights to his films and regularly stick them on at 3 in the morning when they’ve nothing better to show. A new generation of fans have stumbled onto his work and asked the question “What the bloody hell was that!”
“Taken as a body of work, Slaughter’s films fulfil every criterion for auteurism. The same concerns come up time and time again: money, sex, evil. The films have a distinctive style and an energy and lack of restraint rare in films of the time. The big question (which auteurism never addressed) is “Are the films any good?”. That’s a tough one to answer since by any objective standard they are cheaply-produced rubbish. And yet the best of them are vastly entertaining. It’s time he was recognised as a true original of British Cinema.”
C. From Internet Movie Database:
“Date of Birth 19 March 1885, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, UK Date of Death
19 February 1956, Derby, England, UK. (coronary thrombosis)
“Birth Name Norman Carter Slaughter
“Mini Biography Tod Slaughter took to the stage in 1905 and made a name for himself as the star villain of numerous Victorian melodramas which he toured around England. Many of these were filmed cheaply in the 30s and 40s by quota-quickie tzar George King. His ham performances are perfectly suited to the material and the best of his films give the impression that if the Victorians could have made features they would have looked like this.
“The last of the British barnstormers was born Norman Carter Slaughter in Newcastle. He first took to the boards in 1905, and was soon managing his own company. After war service he picked up his stage career, though it was some 15 years before he got in front of the camera His first film set the tone for his career. He always played the villain, but he was good at it and no one was better. Starting with Maria Marten, or The Murder in the Red Barn (1935) he was the master of the no-holds barred Victorian melodrama. This obvious bad-guy cackled and slimed his way through most of the melodrama classics. He was often worked under producer George King who had seen that Slaughter appealed to precisely the audience who went to the cheaper houses, and brought the full majesty of Mr Slaughter’s performances to the screen. There were a few non-melodramatic roles in his career. He was a supporting player in the modern day The Song of the Road (1937) and Darby and Joan (1937). In Sexton Blake and the Hooded Terror (1938) he was head of an international gang of super-villains. His last two films, which saw him playing master-criminal Terence Reilley were each three episodes of the television series “Inspector Morley” cobbled together for theatrical release. The series doesn’t appear to have had a UK broadcast, nor an IMDb entry. These films are just aberrations. Slaughter’s stereo-type showed what type of films the Victorians would have made if they could have made feature films. He was more of a ham than Charles Laughton, Donald Wolfit and Marlon Brando combined; but at least had fun: even delivering oldies like “There’s no picking up a gentlemanly livelihood nowadays. Hang me if I haven’t thought of turning respectable” [_The Ticket Of Leave Man (1937)_].
“When he died of coronary thrombosis on February 19, 1956 at age 70 he was still on stage, usually with Sweeney Todd or on that last day Maria Marten. His work slipped into obscurity. Critics in particular demanded naturalism not his full-blooded theatricality. By any objective standard his films are cheaply-produced rubbish, but the best of them are vastly entertaining. It’s time he was recognised as a true original of British Cinema.”
OUR VINTAGE TOD SLAUGHTER HORROR FILMS
1. MARIA MARTEN OR THE MURDER IN THE RED BARN (a/k/a THE MURDER
IN THE RED BARN)
2. THE CRIMES OF STEPHEN HAWKE
3. SWEENEY TODD THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET (a/k/a THE DEMON
BARBER OF FLEET STREET)
4. IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO MEND (a/k/a NEVER TOO LATE)
5. SEXTON BLAKE AND THE HOODED TERROR (a/k/a THE HOODED TERROR)
6. THE FACE AT THE WINDOW
7. CRIMES AT THE DARK HOUSE
All of these have been, or will be, released on DVD on our Mr. FAT-W Video label, and are available for purchase in the “Horror Buy DVDs” page of this website.
All seven of our Tod Slaughter horror films are “good copyright”in the U.K., the country where they were produced. While generally regarded as being in the public domain in the U.S., in reality all can be registered as GATT Reversion titles; FATW, having legitimate chain of title distribution rights, intends to register all seven as GATT Reversion titles.
TOD SLAUGHTER PACKAGE CREDITS AND SYNOPSES
MARIA MARTEN OR THE MURDER IN THE RED BARN (a/k/a THE MURDER IN THE RED BARN)
1935/1938 B&W 65:30 minutes
Director: Milton Rosmer
Writer: Randall H. Faye
Film Editor: Charles Sanders
Cast: Tod Slaughter, Hiliary Eaves, Sophie Stewart, Eric Portman, D.J.Williams,
Antonia Brough, Noel Painton, Clare Greet, Dennis Hoey, Herbert Leonard,
Stella Rho, Quenton McPherson, Gerrard Tyrell
Trivia: “The real Red Barn, where Maria Marten was murdered in 1828 is in the village of Polstead, Suffolk, UK. Baroness Rendell of Babergh lives there now; she is better known as crime writer Ruth Rendell.” Internet Movie Database
Synopsis: “How honest is the beat of a kindly heart, be the breast above it ever so humble. CARLOS (ERIC PORTMAN) is only a lowly gypsy, but his love for FARMER MARTEN’S (D. J. WILLIAMS) daughter MARIA (SOPHIE STEWART) is unsullied and his aim is Holy Matrimony. Not so that of SQUIRE CORDER (TOD SLAUGHTER), a fiend in human dress. He observes the graces of MARIA and, oh fie upon the dastard, advances upon her, leering. Heaven knows she does not wish to yield, but the SQUIRE moves with satanic allure and MARIE, the tender fledgling, is made to suffer a fate worse than death. Oh the pity of it, that in time her condition becomes delicate and proud FARMER MARTEN righteously sends her from her home in shame. Suspicion falls upon true-blue GYPSY CARLOS, who is forced into hiding. Poor MARIA must perforce seek aid from the very man who has despoiled her, the villainous SQUIRE. Again he leers and has his way; then, his foul deed ever to confront him in the coming birth of her child, lures her to the old red bard and there does her to death. But stay! GYPSY CARLOS, ever faithful, sets out to prove what he has long suspected. In the red barn he confronts the craven SQUIRE with the evidence of MARIA’S mute body. The SQUIRE confesses his heinous deed, is hailed to prison, and with GYPSY CARLOS springing the trap expiates his wanton crime upon the gallows.”
“Tod Slaughter was vastly underrated as an actor. This was his movie debut, at the ripe old age of 50. This movie is just so watchable, even now, some 66 years after it’s first release. Tod plays the villainous squire Corder, a man of questionable morals, with a penchant for the young ladies of his locality. Sophie Stewart is the young lady that is drawn to the charms of the smooth-talking squire, oblivious of the attentions of the besotted gypsy Carlos. Alas, it transpires to be her undoing, and the lovely Maria of the title is done to death by that dastardly rogue Corder. The rest of the film is devoted to the eventual unmasking of the killer, and him getting his just desserts for that foul deed. Let’s face it, there are so many films from this era that just don’t quite stand up to scrutiny by the modern-day viewer, but appreciate this film for what it really is…a melodramatic masterpiece from the late, great N. Carter Slaughter.”Internet Movie Database
“Tod Slaughter’s first film and already the elements are in place: hoary, old melodrama; cheap production; George King producing; mad, ham acting from Mr Slaughter. Unmissable. It’s also Eric Portman’s debut.” Www.britishpictures.com
THE CRIMES OF STEPHEN HAWKE
1936 B&W 65:20 minutes
Director: George King
Cinematog.: Ronald Neame
Writers: Jack Celestin, Frederick Hayward (screenplay), H.F. Maltby
Orig. Music: Colin Wark
Editor: John Seabourne Sr.
Art Dir.: Philip Bawcombe
Producer: George King
Cast: Tod Slaughter, Eric Portman, Marjorie Taylor, D.J.Williams, Gerald Barry,
Charles Penrose, Norman Pierce, Graham (Ben) Soutten, George M. Slater,
Flotsam and Jetsam, Cecil Bevan, Annie Esmond, Harry Terry, Ben Williams
Synopsis: “STEVEN HAWKE (TOD SLAUGHTER), moneylender, seems gentle and benign, the very essence of respectability. No single soul suspects his playful pastime of breaking human spines both for pleasure and for profit, least of all his cherished daughter JULIA (MARJORIE TAYLOR). His crimes multiply. Terror mounts in the City of London. Public outcry demands action against the fiend known as “The Spinebreaker.” When suspicion falls on STEPHEN he prudently disappears. MILES ARCHER (GERALD BARRY), a police chief, tries to blackmail JULIA into marriage and on learning of this STEPHEN promptly returns and treats the gentleman to his infallible manipulative treatment. Retribution comes to STEPHEN in the form of a fatal accident, but he leaves the pure and lovely JULIA betrothed to worthy MATTHEW TRIMBLE (ERIC PORTMAN), man of her choice.”
“This time around Tod Slaughter plays Mr. Stephen Hawke, a limping, kind-hearted bespectacled money lender by day with a beautiful, faithful daughter and the friendship of a local shipping agent and son, and by night he is the “spine-breaker,” cruelest of all killers as he kills the rich for their money and treasure in a serial-like fashion. As with any Slaughter film, Slaughter is the main focal point of the film. The film is barely over an hour in length, but it has much to offer in plot. We have Slaughter kill a spoiled rich kid, trick a man into bringing an emerald to his home, kill his friend, and run from the vengeance of his son. Throw in some lecherous guy that wants to force Hawke’s daughter into marriage and a hunchback for extra measure. The rest of the actors are adequate(or less than so) but they do not detract at all from the presence of Slaughter on film. His build, his speech, his whole demeanor brings life to each and every scene he is in. Is he a great actor? No, but he sure can grab your attention and keep a “grip” on it. As with many other Slaughter films, George King directs in workman-like style if nothing else. The beginning is set up like a radio play with some “entertainers” doing some kind of real bad vocal act prior to Slaughter coming on talking about his “new” old melodrama. Good old-fashioned fun!” Internet Movie Database
“Kindly moneylender or spine-breaking mass murderer? Well, he’s played by Tod Slaughter, so what do you think? This cracking melodrama is prefaced by a bizarre re-enactment of the radio show “In Town Tonight” complete with a performance by Flotsam and Jetsam (two blokes in dinner jackets around a piano singing ‘witty’ songs – you know the drill) and Mr Slaughter describing his latest role in the new, old melodrama “The Crimes of Stephen Hawke”. It’s an expensive-looking production by the standard of producer George King – at one point the camera actually moves! (though only by about two feet so they couldn’t have bought much track). Eric Portman playing Hawke’s daughter’s boyfriend (and son of one of Hawke’s victims) is obviously still learning his film craft but at least he went on to better things. Marjorie Taylor as the daughter is the epitome of all those plumy-voiced non-actresses that plagued the quota quickies. She’s eclipsed in the rotten acting stakes by the child playing Hawke’s first victim, Master Terence. He’s only on screen for about thirty seconds before Hawke puts him out of his – and our – misery, but his pudgy features, greasy hair and indescribably squeaky voice will haunt your nightmares long after you’ve forgotten the rest of the film.” www.britishpictures.com
SWEENEY TODD THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET (a/k/a THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET)
1936 B&W 67:00 minutes
Director: George King
Writers: Frederick Hayward, H.F. Maltby
Cinematog.: Jack Parker
Editor: John Seabourne Sr.
Art Dir.: Percy Bell
Producer: George King
Cast: Tod Slaughter, Eve Lister, Bruce Seton, Stella Rho, Davina Craig, Billy Holland,
Norman Pierce, Jonathan Singer, Jerry Vernon, D.J. Williams, Bruce Seton,
Jerry Verno, Graham Soutten, Aubrey Mallalieu
Plot outline: “A Fleet Street barber recounts the story of Sweeney Todd, a notorious barber who in the last century murdered many customers for their money.” Internet Movie Database
Synopsis: “SWEENEY TODD (TOD SLAUGHTER), a Fleet Street barber, builds up a fortune by enticing sailors into his shop. ‘You have a lovely throat for a razor, sir. I’d like to polish you off.’ No sooner are they in his chair than he drops them through a trapdoor into a vault below, cuts their throats, and robs them. To dispose of the bodies, his girl friend MRS. LOVATT (STELLA RHO) runs a meat-pie shop next door, and all goes well until SWEENEY flies high and tries to win JOHANNA (EVE LISTER), daughter of a prosperous shipowner. This excites the jealousy of MRS. LOVATT, and when he plans to dispose of MARK (BRUCE SETON), a sea-captain with whom JOHANNA is secretly in love, MRS. LOVATT helps MARK to dodge the demon barber’s razor. MARK then rallies his forces together and SWEENEY gets his just deserts, but not before he sharpens his razor on MRS. LOVATT’S tonsils.”
“A bone-chiller that still manages to inject humor, this movie was based on an actual event and even spawned Stephen Sondheim’s hit play “Sweeney Todd” in 1978. Slaughter portrays a mad barber who has a deal with a baker to provide fillings for his meat pies. Unfortunately for the barber’s customers, their visit to his basement makes them an integral part of that treat.” Corel All Movie Guide 2
“I’m inclined to agree that the acting and technical work in this production is, for the most part, quite good, but there’s a significant disappointment. The whole purpose of the melodrama is the fact that the “victims,”,and I use that term rather loosely, END UP IN THE PIES! The horror is that, while the capitalist system of the early Victorian era figuratively ate up the workers, in this story, we’re LITERALLY eating them up as well. Now, I know that the entire concept is rather hard to swallow, but, by leaving it out, we’ve been deprived of the story of one of the great lunatics of horror. And the cannibalism is barely hinted at. I guess they didn’t have the stomach after all, no?” Internet Movie Database
“If you need an introduction to the work of Tod Slaughter, this is the film for you. Sweeney was the part he was born to play. The Demon Barber is part of our folk-memory and Slaughter embodies the role like no other actor could. The roots of the story are hidden in the mists of time but the essentials are clear enough: Sweeney Todd slits the throats of his victims and his accomplice Mrs Lovatt turns the carcasses into meat pies. It’s the classic Victorian horror story: born of an age when razors were cut-throat and people were swallowed up by the great conurbation of London. It’s the flip-side of the great Victorian success story where commerce is all and a respectable surface is the only thing that matters. Slaughter and director/producer George King exploit our knowledge to the full. As soon as Sweeney is introduced on the quay-side looking at the latest batch of sailors to arrive in town he’s making quips about shaving and polishing-off his customers. As usual, Slaughter’s so damn obvious that it’s a miracle that no one around him realises he’s a madman. Nowhere is this more glaring than in the scene when the Beadle (Ben Soutten) brings him a workhouse boy, Tobias (Johnny Singer), to be his new apprentice. It’s his seventh in seven weeks! and Slaughter seems like the creepiest child molester you can imagine. Still, the Beadle doesn’t care and by implication neither does the rest of society. The other way he exploits our knowledge of the story is in the little matter of Mrs Lovatt’s pies. Nowhere do they mention what the pies contain. No doubt the censor would have found such an issue distasteful. There’s a scene where the comic-relief sailor (Jerry Verno) examines the pie he’s eating in an idle sort of way where you’d expect him to find a fingernail or some sort of remains, but it never quite happens. The cast, apart from Mr Slaughter, is workmanlike; drawing from the George King repertory company. Stella Rho makes a good Mrs Lovatt and Bruce Seton is excellent as Mark the handsome hero. Seton is probably the most distinguished actor to work with Slaughter and certainly the poshest, since he was actually Sir Bruce. He’s now best known for his Fabian of the Yard TV series from the early 60s.The production, though cheap, doesn’t look too poverty-stricken. The small sets are filled with extras which makes them look more impressive than they actually are. Future director Ronald Neame’s photography is adequate but the film could have done with more atmospheric lighting. The script is probably the best Slaughter had to work with, with virtually every other line a reference to money or commerce. This must come from the original play since H.F. Maltby never showed much aptitude for textual depth in his other scripts. The film is let down by Mark’s trip to Africa to get rich. The jungle is unconvincing and full of natives on the rampage. It looks slightly dubious to modern eyes (the “good” black servant is called Snowdrop – did they never tire of giving stupid names to black people?) and, though it’s meant to be an action packed sequence, feels like a diversion from the main fun of Slaughter’s performance.Despite the flaws, this film is a valuable record of a personality actor at his height. Maybe it’s time melodrama made a comeback. It’s certainly entertaining.” www.britishpictures.com
IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO MEND (a/k/a NEVER TOO LATE)
1937 B&W 64:44/67.00 minutes
Director: David MacDonald
Writers: H.F. Maltby (dialogue and script), based on novel by Charles Reade
Cinematog.: Hone Glendinning
Editor: John Seabourne Sr. (As John Seabourne)
Art Dir.: Philip Bawcombe, Jack Hallwood
Producer: George King
Cast: Tod Slaughter, Jack Livesey, Ian Colin, Marjorie Taylor, Lawrence Hanray,
Roy Russell, Jonathan Singer, D.J. Williams, Leonard Sharp, Jack Vyvian
Plot Outline: “An evil prison administrator cruelly abuses the inmates at his prison, until one day the tables are turned.” Internet Movie Database
Synopsis: “Sadistic SQUIRE MEADOWS, J.P. (TOD SLAUGHTER), a prison governor, has designs upon village maiden SUSAN MERTON (MARJORIE TAYLOR) and bribes the local constable to bring a charge of poaching against GEORGE FIELDING (IAN COLIN) whom SUSAN loves. This plan to dispose of his hated rival is foiled when TOM ROBINSON (JACK LIVESEY), a poacher friend of GEORGE’S, unexpectedly shoulders the blame. TOM is sent to prison and the thwarted SQUIRE takes revenge by inflicting upon him the most ferocious cruelties under the guise of ‘corrective treatment’ culminating in consigning poor TOM to the ‘black hole.’ Meanwhile GEORGE has gone to Australia to seek his fortune; but the SQUIRE intercepts his letters to SUSAN and after acquiring a mortgage on her father’s homestead persuades her to accept his hand in marriage. GEORGE, now rich, returns to England on the very day of the wedding and with the help of the loyal TOM, recently released from prison, succeeds in putting paid to further villainy on the part of SQUIRE MEADOWS. The lovers are reunited and the SQUIRE finishes up by having a taste of the dreaded prison ‘treadmill’ he has so gloatingly inflicted on others.”
“This is an underrated portrait of the Victorian prison system and the chaplain who tried to change it. An evil squire(Tod Slaughter) sends an innocent man to the British version of Alcatraz in order to get his filthy mitts on a beautiful girl. The cinematography is what makes this film so memorable. The effective use of light and shadow to accentuate the misery and suffering of the inmates, many of which are victims of a corrupt system, foreshadows a style utilized in many venerable products of English postwar cinema such as David Lean’s Oliver Twist(1948) Some modern critics have panned this and many other Tod Slaughter films due to the melodramatic, stagey acting. While films like The Demon Barber of Fleet Street(1936) barely hold up today, Never Too Late is the exception because it is well-acted and photographed and is relevant to the global problem of human rights abuses that in these supposedly progressive times has still to be wiped out. After viewing this, I can see why Queen Victoria passed so many prison reform bills after seeing this story done on stage.” Internet Movie Database
SEXTON BLAKE AND THE HOODED TERROR (a/k/a THE HOODED TERROR)
1938 B&W 68:00/70:00 minutes
Director: George King
Cinematog.: Hone Glendenning
Writers: A.R. Rawlinson, from story by Pierre Quiroule
Producer: George King
Cast: Tod Slaughter, George Curzon, Greta Gynt, Tony Simpson, David Farrar,
Marie Wright, Leonard Sharp, Norman Pierce, Charles Oliver, George King
Plot outline: “Sexton Blake and Tinker foil criminal plot connected with the Tongs, and master-minded by “‘famous stamp collector’ and millionaire.” Internet Movie Database
Synopsis: “SEXTON BLAKE (GEORGE CURZON), famous detective, lives in Baker Street with housekeeper MRS. BARDELL (MARIE WRIGHT), faithful assistant TINKER (TONY SIMPSON), PEDRO the bloodhound, his stamp albums, his silk dressing gowns and his microscope. The Hooded Terror, leader of the Black Quorum, most powerful criminal organization of the century, has until recently been running a gambling house in Mayfair, an underground snake-pit in Paris, and is still France’s biggest employer of illicit Chinese labor. GRANITE GRANT (DAVID FARRAR), who calls to give BLAKE news of the Black Quorum, is garrotted before MRS. BARDELL has time to answer his ring at the front door. A clue found on the body convinces BLAKE that the Hooded Terror is none other than MICHAEL LARRON (TOD SLAUGHTER), millionaire philatelist. Also on the track of the criminals is MADEMOISELLE GALLEY (GRETA GYNT), French secret service agent, and she is able to rescue BLAKE when he falls into the clutches of the gang. But from a place of hiding MICHAEL LARRON has gloated upon the beauty of GALLEY’S face and figure and has vowed to win her for himself. GALLEY is lured to LARRON’S hideout but before he can wreak his will upon her BLAKE and TINKER decide to storm the palace. LARRON has only seconds in which to escape — but GALLEY, who can now identify him as the Hooded Terror, must first be disposed of. She is left chained in the cellar where, frozen with terror, she watches steel trapdoors open to release a seething mass of giant pythons. LARRON, wounded, makes good his escape, but his evil plan to kill the lovely GALLEY is thwarted by the timely arrival of BLAKE and TINKER who vow that sometime, somewhere, the Hooded Terror will meet his just deserts.”
“Sexton Blake, a British pulp-novel ripoff of Sherlock Holmes, was the principal character in several fast-paced programmers of the 1930s. George Curzon stars as Blake in SEXTON BLAKE AND THE HOODED TERROR, but the histrionic honors go to chop-licking Tod Slaughter as “The Snake,” the elusive head of a group of masked criminals. The scriptwriters contrive to allow the perfidious Slaughter to escape scot-free at the climax, paving the way for a sequel (that, worse luck, was never filmed). Greta Gynt plays another of the distressed-damsel roles she was saddled with before graduating to bigger-budgeted productions in the 1940s. SEXTON BLAKE AND THE HOODED TERROR represented the last of George Curzon’s three appearances as Blake; the character would resurface on screen in 1944 in the person of David Farrar.” Corel All Movie Guide 2
“Tod Slaughter makes this film great fun to watch. If you ever want to see a Slaughter film out of curiosity of whom this forgotten horror actor is, well…this is one to see. SEXTON BLAKE AND THE HOODED TERROR is made on a low budget, but pulls off with both class and suspense. The actors takes their assignment serious and a variety of scenes makes it fast paced and exciting. The leading lady is Greta Gynt who also played against Bela Lugosi in DARK EYES OF LONDON. This time she is menaced by Slaughter and entrapped in his house of horrors where there is plenty to enjoy for horror fans. Perhaps the film uses too much time to establish the story, but once it gets going there are plenty to enjoy. Some people compare similarities between Bela Lugosi and Tod Slaughter. If there are any, it must be in their enthusiasm and “over the top” performance in low budget horror films. But in many ways that saves the show. Have fun with this “gem” from British cinema and lets hope it will be available restored on dvd asap.” Internet Movie Database
“George Curzon plays Sexton Blake, and the Hooded Terror is an international criminal organisation headed by none other than Tod Slaughter. Curzon played the part in three movies but the series never really took off. Since this is the best of them it’s hardly surprising.
THE FACE AT THE WINDOW
1939 B&W 63:36/65:00 minutes
Director: George King
Cinematog.: Hone Glendenning
Writers: Randall H. Faye (uncredited), Ronald Fayre, A.R. Rawlinson, book by
Producer: George King
Orig.Music: Jack Beaver
Editor: Jack Harris
Art Dir.: Philip Bawcombe
Cast: Tod Slaughter, Marjorie Taylor, John Warwick, Aubrey Mallelieu, Harry
Terry, Robert A’Dair, Wallace Everett, Leonard Henry, Bill Shine, Margaret
Yarde, Kay Lewis, Margaret Yarde
Plot summary: “Set in France in 1880. A series of murders is attributed to a Wolf Man.”
Internet Movie Database
Synopsis: “Paris, 1880. A series of unsolved murders, a city panic- stricken, fantastic stories of LE LOUP, a “wolf man.” Such is the background of the crime involving robbery and murder committed against the banking house of M. DE BRISSON (AUBREY MALLELIEU) and bringing him to the verge of financial ruin. The rich CHEVALIER DEL GARDO (TOD SLAUGHTER) comes to the rescue and in so doing meets and covets CECILE (MARJORIE TAYLOR), the banker’s lovely daughter. However, CECILE loves LUCIEN (JOHN WARWICK), a penniless clerk, of whom DEL GARDO promptly disposes by framing him for the bank robbery. When DE BRISSON discovers DEL GARDO’S villainy it is the signal for another murder by the “Wolf Man,” and CECILE finds her father stabbed to death. LUCIEN, accused of the murder by DEL GARDO, agrees to meet him in a duel, but DEL GARDO bribes his seconds to knock out his young opponent and throw him into the river to drown. Fortunately LUCIEN is rescued in time to save CECILE, struggling heroically against DEL GARDO’S evil assault on her honor. CECILE seeks police permission for a startling scientific experiment on her dead father by which she hopes to prove that DEL GARDO is his murderer. When the scientist who is to make the experiment is murdered by the “Wolf Man” LUCIEN takes over and nearly tricks DEL GARDO into admitting his guilt. Pursued by LUCIEN and the police, DEL GARDO reaches his home where, caged in an attic, is his half-brother, a creature with the monstrous face and long-drawn howl of a wolf. LE LOUP, the killer Wolf Man who has served his brother well, is a secret which DEL GARDO has sworn shall never come to light. Now, as he drags the aged beast to a trapdoor overlooking the river, a hairy arm clutches him by the throat. The pursuers arrive in time to witness the last of the DEL GARDOS — the CHEVALIER and his brother LE LOUP — crash to their death in the swirling waters of the Seine.”
“Forget Karloff & Lugosi. Forget Cushing & Lee, even Price and the Chaneys. Tod is king of horror for one very important reason – he quite evidently enjoys his work. This was the first Tod film I saw and – having heard so much about him prior to this – I feared disappointment. No worries. Despite the cardboard settings and woeful support cast, from the moment he strides masterfully in, we are in the capable hands of a classic film villain. The opening murder with the eerie wolf howl on the soundtracks sets the scene perfectly and then we are treated to an acting masterclass from the great man himself. Whether innocently acting the concerned friend, lecherously trying to sneak a kiss from the heroine, threatening his low-life confederates with a grisly end if they cross him or, worst of all, holding somewhat one-sided conversations with his demented foster brother, Tod holds the film together. The Chevalier is underplayed by Tod compared to Sweeney Todd – but seldom has one man wiggled his eyebrows to more sinister effect. It’s a great pity that Universal studios didn’t try to entice him over for their classic horror cycle – Tod would’ve made a far more spirited Dracula than John Carradine in the later sequels and can’t you just see him going toe to toe with Basil Rathbone’s Sherlock Holmes. Shame nobody thought of putting him up against Arthur Wontner’s in the UK. The double-exposure effects for the appearance of the “face” are well done for their time and the whole film compares favourably with the Universal classics of the period.
“ The production values are far higher than is normal for a British quota quickie of the period. The contrast between the spacious elegant rooms of the moneyed classes and the clutter of the Blind Rat – with a wealth of extras and charming Parisian detail such as the dancers – more than foreshadows the class-consciousness Hammer brought to its gothics a few decades later. So does the violent action with Lucien using an oil lamp to devastating effect – his disguise as “Renard” could have been a bit more convincing – and Tod making a sudden getaway by leaping from the window of the scientist’s house and swimming the Seine to safety. John Warwick and Marjorie Taylor make an appealing couple – although Warwick is no match for Eric Portman in the earlier melodramas – and George King is improving as a director with a tightly edited montage of tense faces as the “corpse” slowly stirs into action to write its incriminating message. Tod is less of a central figure with whom we are expected to side with – even through his setbacks – as Stephen Hawke and Sir Percival Glyde were, but is still a marvelously blackhearted villain, as seen in his unsporting behaviour at the duel with pistols with Lucien. This is his finest film.” Internet Movie Database
“Paris, 1880. There’s a killer on the loose, stabbing his victims in the back. Who can it be? Tod Slaughter, of course! With George King directing as well as producing and non-actress Marjorie Taylor along for the ride this is a bad-film buff’s treat.” www.britishpictures.com
CRIMES AT THE DARK HOUSE
1940 B&W 66:31/69:00 minutes
Director: George King
Cinematog.: Hone Glendenning
Writers: H.F. Maltby, Frederick Hayward , Hone Glendenning , Edward Dryhurst;
based on novel The Woman in White by Wildie Collins
Producer: George King
Cast: Tod Slaughter, Sylvia Mariott, Hilary Eaves, Hay Petrie, Rita Grant, Geoffrey
Wardwell, Margaret Yarde, David Home, Elsie Wagstaff, David Keir
Plot Outline: “A madman kills a man who has just inherited a large estate, then impersonates his victim to gain entrance to the estate so he can murder his enemies…The moral of the story is ‘Be careful of what you wish for.’ “ Internet Movie Database
“So since when have crimes been committing [sic] in a house with all the lights on? This chop-licking British melodrama stars the glorious uninhibited Tod Slaughter, playing the unspeakable Sir Henry Glyde. Disposing of his wealthy wife, Glyde replaces her with a look-alike, a “graduate” from the local insane asylum. This may sound vaguely familiar to you if you’ve seen the 1948 Warner Bros. gothic drama “The Woman in White.” Indeed, both the Warner film and CRIMES IN THE DARK HOUSE were based on the same 1860 novel by Wilkie Collins–and both are good gory fun in their own separate ways.” Corel All Movie Guide 2
“Tod Slaughter. 60 years ago he dominated British B movies, 30 years ago no one remembered him, to-day he is being re-discovered and given the respect he has always deserved. Welcome back Tod! Modern film historians compare him to Boris Karloff and while that is a nice accolade it is not entirely appropriate. If we have to compare Tod to another British screen villain I would choose Lionel Atwill. Oh yes, Boris could be menacingly evil but there was always a motivating force behind him, a drive that so obsessed him he lost sight of everything else (check out THE DEVIL COMMANDS or THE MAN WITH NINE LIVES or even BEFORE I HANG to see what I mean.) Lionel and Tod were evil for no other reason than they simply WANTED to be; they were mean and they liked it! That having been said now lets discuss this movie. You know you are in for a great time when the picture has only just begun and a killer strikes by hammering a wooden spike into the ear of a sleeping man! That killer is our Tod (what a surprise!) and he impersonates the dead man, Sir Percival Glyde, to take possession of a large inheritance. Trouble rises when Tod discovers he has inherited nothing but a big stack of bills and if he wants to avoid Debtor’s Prison he’d better find a rich wife right away! Is that a problem? Not for Tod, he has set his sights on a lovely young maiden in a nearby estate. So what if she is young enough to be his daughter she is rich and who knows, she just might have an . . .er . . . “accident” not long after the wedding. This is melodrama at its best. The false Sir Percival is hardly inside his manor house before he begins canoodling with a buxom chambermaid. When she informs him that she is expecting his child he leads the gullible girl to the boat dock where he strangles her (“You wanted to be a bride? I’ll make you one! A bride of Death! Heh, heh heh!”) Meanwhile there is another woman hanging around who claims that Sir Percival is already married . . . to her, and they have a daughter! Honestly stealing a fortune is such a very complicated thing! Tod has to find a way to eliminate them too. Does he? You will find out. Part of the fun of watching a Tod Slaughter film is seeing just how perversely evil he can be and knowing that at the end his fate will be a fitting one; this movie does not disappoint on any level. Is this his best film? Some people say so; though my personal favourite is THE FACE AT THE WINDOW. Now sit back, imagine yourself in a British theatre back in the Victorian days and enjoy the show. Feel free to hiss the villain and cheer the hero and heroine. Enjoy!” Internet Movie Database
TOD SLAUGHTER CLIPS